The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World

The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World

The dramatic, pulse-pounding story of Harry Truman’s first four months in office, when this unlikely, small-town Washington outsider had to take on Germany, Japan, Stalin, and the atomic bomb, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.Heroes are often defined as ordinary characters who get thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and through courage and a dash of l...

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Title:The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World
Author:A.J. Baime
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The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World Reviews

  • Nancy

    "Never had fate shoehorned so much history into such a short period." The Accidental President, A. J. Baime

    His first response was "No." Truman did not want the position of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's new Vice President.

    But FDR commanded it, and Harry S. Truman had to agree.

    FDR was not a well man when he took office for a fourth term. And when he died on April 12, 1945, Truman said, "the whole weight of the moon and stars fell on me."

    "Who the hell is Harry Truman?"

    The Accidental President b

    "Never had fate shoehorned so much history into such a short period." The Accidental President, A. J. Baime

    His first response was "No." Truman did not want the position of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's new Vice President.

    But FDR commanded it, and Harry S. Truman had to agree.

    FDR was not a well man when he took office for a fourth term. And when he died on April 12, 1945, Truman said, "the whole weight of the moon and stars fell on me."

    "Who the hell is Harry Truman?"

    The Accidental President by A. J. Baime focuses on Truman's first four months in the presidency, portraying Truman as an unknown 'Everyman' kept out of FDR's loop, but who quickly gained the nation's trust and approval while tackling huge challenges. He came into the job with only a layman's knowledge of international politics but scrambled to catch up. Monumental decisions awaited.

    Baime offers a condensed biography and profile of Truman and a detailed recreation of his first four months in the presidency. It is daunting to consider what this failed businessman with a high school degree had to contend with! His straight talking, systematic thinking, and unpretentious style was refreshing and his staff was surprised, and appreciative, of his competence.

    When Truman took office, the U.S. Army was fifty-seven miles from Berlin. General Dwight Eisenhower had discovered the horrors of Nazi death camps. General LeMay was ruthlessly firebombing Japan, while Japan was sending out mass suicide missions of Kamikaze pilots. Iwo Jima was captured but a third of the American landing force had died.

    The Soviets had suffered huge losses battling the Nazis. They wanted payback. Liberating Poland and Austria, they installed puppet regimes. Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote, "An iron curtain is drawn down upon their front."

    What to do with Germany had to be decided. Already the Soviets were plundering, hauling away everything they could. If the Soviets joined in war against Japan, they would want a part of Japan, too. Truman could not allow a Soviet presence in Japan.

    All of Central Europe's infrastructure had collapsed. Seven million persons were displaced without food or coal for heating. Children suffered from malnutrition.

    Yugoslavia wanted a piece of Italy. Chaing Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung had divided China.

    The United Nations was yet to be organized, it's future unknown.

    Would the U.S. recognize the new state of Israel?

    The American wartime economy was thriving, but what would happen when the war contracts ended and servicemen returned home?

    Churchill, who would soon lose his position as Prime Minister, Truman, and Stalin gathered at Potsdam. Truman need all his poker skills when facing off with Stalin. In his pocket was the upcoming test of the most terrible weapon ever known. If used against Japan, would it mean the end of civilization?

    Reading about this tumultuous time was exciting and disconcerting. The whole world I grew up in was determined during these first months of 1945.

    In his notes, Bamie states that history is a kind of myth that morphs through time as new evidence is unearthed and interpretations arise. The author spent three years sifting through original sources, diaries, and documents, ferreting out "new accession" including oral histories.

    I enjoyed this highly readable and informative study.

    I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair an unbiased review.

  • Jean Poulos

    I have read many biographies about Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). In this book A. J. Baime narrows the scope of the book to the first four months of the presidency. The author does provide some early history of Truman so the reader understands how events came about.

    On April 12, 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt summoned Truman to the White House to inform him of the death of FDR. Truman said his worst nightmare immediately became a reality. He had only been Vice President for three months and had not been i

    I have read many biographies about Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). In this book A. J. Baime narrows the scope of the book to the first four months of the presidency. The author does provide some early history of Truman so the reader understands how events came about.

    On April 12, 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt summoned Truman to the White House to inform him of the death of FDR. Truman said his worst nightmare immediately became a reality. He had only been Vice President for three months and had not been informed about anything by FDR. It would have been extremely difficult for anyone to follow in the footsteps of the charismatic Roosevelt. Truman was honest, decisive and hardworking. Some of the problems he faced that Baime goes into in depth are:

    1. The war with Germany

    2. The war with Japan

    3. Learned about the Manhattan project. Had to decide about using the bomb on Japan.

    4. The founding of the United Nations

    5. The devastation of Europe and the starving refugees. He sent President Hoover to Europe to deal with the logistics of feeding the people. He and General Marshall developed the Marshall Plan to deal with Europe.

    6. Russia posed challenges and different goals. Stalin failed to honor any of his agreements he made with Churchill and Roosevelt about Eastern Europe. Russia developed the atomic bomb and the cold war began.

    The book is well-written and meticulously researched. Baime is a journalist and the book is written in that style. Baime detailed a chronology as to how Truman transformed into a president and leader of the world. Baime makes history come alive and makes an enjoyable read. The book is well organized. Truman faced many difficult situations over his presidency that had great effect upon the world and the United States. In fact, Baime claims no other president in the history of the United States has faced such difficulties at the beginning of their presidency.

    I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. Tony Messano does a good job narrating the book. Messano is a voice-over artist and audiobook narrator. This is my first experience with listening to Messano.

  • Emily Ross

    Thank you to the publishers for providing an ARC of this book through NetGalley.

    This was a brilliant biography of Truman, concerning the first four months of his presidency. It briefly covers a few months prior to Roosevelt’s death, so we understand how Truman came to make the decisions he did, and goes into depth concerning the war with Germany and the war with Japan, the Manhattan Project, the formation of the United Nations, Europe’s struggle to feed its peoples and refugees and the burgeonin

    Thank you to the publishers for providing an ARC of this book through NetGalley.

    This was a brilliant biography of Truman, concerning the first four months of his presidency. It briefly covers a few months prior to Roosevelt’s death, so we understand how Truman came to make the decisions he did, and goes into depth concerning the war with Germany and the war with Japan, the Manhattan Project, the formation of the United Nations, Europe’s struggle to feed its peoples and refugees and the burgeoning problem of Russia.

    This was well researched and well written. Baime is a journalist and this comes across in the writing style. He makes you feel for Truman and humanises him very well. I liked Truman before reading this book, but I like him more having read this.

  • Mark Mortensen

    Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd U.S. President on April 12, 1945 following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The first 1/3 of the book provides a background while the final 2/3 captures Truman’s first four months in office most notably as Commander-in-Chief during the final stages of World War II. When Truman took office the stage was already set for rapid historical events to unfold, but certain decisions still had to be made. The fall of Germany, the Postsdam Conference and t

    Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd U.S. President on April 12, 1945 following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The first 1/3 of the book provides a background while the final 2/3 captures Truman’s first four months in office most notably as Commander-in-Chief during the final stages of World War II. When Truman took office the stage was already set for rapid historical events to unfold, but certain decisions still had to be made. The fall of Germany, the Postsdam Conference and the climactic mission of Enola Gay dropping Little Boy serve as a backdrop to Truman’s daily inner thoughts. Author A. J. Baime shows the strengths and weaknesses within the president who shunned the limelight.

    On a side note, in 2011 actor/screenwriter Ed Nelson and his lovely wife visited our home a few times. As a voting member of the Academy Awards he had visions for my WWI biography to be on the “Big Screen” and he would do the screenwriting. Ed was most famous for playing Dr. Michael Rossi on the TV series Peyton Place however for a few years in the mid-70’s he filled in for James Whitmore playing President Truman on stage, on the National Tour of "Give 'Em Hell, Harry". During his first visit Ed stood in our living room and performed a few segments as Truman!

  • Jill Meyer

    It was not until April 25, 1945 (or page 167 of A.J. Baime's "The Accidental President"), that newly inaugurated president Harry Truman was told about the US development of the atomic bomb. That was nearly two weeks after Truman succeeded Franklin Roosevelt, who had died on April 12th. (I'm not exactly sure, but I think the Soviets may have known about the bomb before Truman did because of the spying done at Los Alamos.) Why hadn't Truman, who had been Vice-President since January 20, 1945, been

    It was not until April 25, 1945 (or page 167 of A.J. Baime's "The Accidental President"), that newly inaugurated president Harry Truman was told about the US development of the atomic bomb. That was nearly two weeks after Truman succeeded Franklin Roosevelt, who had died on April 12th. (I'm not exactly sure, but I think the Soviets may have known about the bomb before Truman did because of the spying done at Los Alamos.) Why hadn't Truman, who had been Vice-President since January 20, 1945, been let into the loop?

    A.J. Baime covers this and lots more in his book, "The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World". It's a book that concentrates on a short time in history, but gives the reader the full story of how that period of time relates to the periods that came before and after. He writes a short bio of Truman and his family before moving into his nomination as Vice-President (the voting was actually done on the floor of the Democratic convention, different from today when the Presidential candidate selects his running mate and a perfunctory floor vote is taken). Truman was considered a dark horse and underestimated by those who didn't know him - like Franklin Roosevelt - but he was much respected by his peers in the Senate. His formation in 1941 of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program boosted his national profile a bit, but he was still an unknown quantity by the American public, shocked and saddened after Roosevelt's sudden death.

    Baime covers the Allied meeting at Potsdam, the decision to drop the two atomic bombs, and the early formation of the United Nations, among other topics. But most of all, Baime examines Harry Truman, the man and the statesman and how the challenges of his "accidental presidency" were met and exceeded.

    A.J. Baime's book is one of the best history books I've read. He's an easy writer and his words seem to flow on the page.

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